Pistons crumble late, drop season opener against Timberwolves

Detroit News

Rod Beard
 
| The Detroit News

Entering the regular season, the Pistons had several questions, after a nine-month layoff because of the pandemic, a short training camp and quick preseason.

They got a few answers in the regular-season opener, jumping to a 14-point lead in the second quarter but folding in the fourth, allowing the Minnesota Timberwolves to surge back in the closing minutes for a 111-101 win over the Pistons on Wednesday night at Target Center.

Josh Jackson had 19 points and six rebounds, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose points each. Mason Plumlee added 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists and rookie Killian Hayes seven points and three assists in his debut.

The Pistons never trailed in the first three quarters and started the fourth with an 85-80 lead and pushed the margin to eight after back-to-back dunks by Jackson with 9:09 left.

The game changed in the final period when the Timberwolves switched to a zone defense, creating many of the Pistons’ 15 turnovers. Jarrett Culver had four straight point and Malik Beasley (23 points) added a lay-in to tie it at 95 with 5:39 left.

Rose scored on a drive to regain the lead, but Karl-Anthony Towns (22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) hit a 3-pointer to get to 98-97 at the 3:37 mark.

Jackson kept the Pistons in the game with eight points in the fourth quarter, but the Timberwolves kept turning it up on defense. Towns added two more free throws for a 100-99 lead and Jackson answered with a drive in the lane to capture the lead with 2:25 left.

Minnesota closed it out in the final minutes, with back-to-back 3-pointers by D’Angelo Russell (18 points) and Beasley, turning it into a 106-101 margin. The Timberwolves added two more free throws from Towns and a three-point play by Josh Okogie (12 points) for the final margin.

rbeard@detroitnews.com

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